Sunday, June 29, 2008

They are gone

The two dear children that we have been caring for during the last six weeks left this past Wednesday. Over and over again we have had people say to us, "We don't know how you can handle 6 children!" And I would always answer, "The children are great! We love having them and they bring such joy to our family. It is all of the drama and difficulty of the situation that is hard."

On Wednesday, the parents finalized their divorce and the children went to live with their dad. I don't know if I am glad or upset about how everything ended because it is such a convoluted situation. But this phase for us is now over.

Wednesday night, Joe and I collapsed into bed at 9 and slept soundly until morning. Joe, who wakes at 5 for personal devotions, went back to sleep on the couch Thursday morning because he just could not stay awake. All of the adrenaline that sustained us for 6 weeks is gone and we are tired! We are emotionally drained too. I particularly am still reeling emotionally from all of the anger, manipulation, lying, and stress that we dealt with.

Joe has been so kind as to give me some needed alone time over the past few days. Because of some of the specifics of what had happened to the children before they came to us, we didn't leave the little girl alone with Joe at all. Which meant that I had a delightful tag-a-long all of the time. And she was delightful too--a sweet little girl with such spunk and zest. But I need quiet desperately, even in small doses, and have been dreadfully short on it recently. I am still recharging.

We learned a lot during the past 6 weeks and have been thinking a lot as we have processed everything this week. I hope to get some of my thoughts into post-form soon, but at least wanted to write tonight to say that they are gone. And we do miss them so! I hadn't expected to have so many heart strings tied to them in such a short period of time. I have been surprised by how dear they became to me.

For now, I leave with a picture of little R.'s bathing suit on our clothesline. The children had all played in the sprinkler and put their suits on the line to dry. M. and R. left so quickly on Wednesday that I have still been finding their things all over the house and packing them away for them. I have walked past R.'s suit several times each day, but hadn't had the heart to take it down. I told Joe that I just couldn't bear to take it down and so he did it for me last night as we walked in from the garden.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Repentance and the gruesome message of the cross

What do you do when you've lost your temper again with your 4 year old? What do you do when you realize that in the rush to get out the door you yelled at everyone, barking orders like a drill sergeant rather than a loving mama? What do you do when you hear yourself correct an erring child and realize that you are not speaking kindly but are fussing and threatening?

Around Easter, I remember hearing a news story somewhere in the blogosphere about churches that did not teach about the resurrection in their young children's Sunday school classes on Easter morning. It had been decided that the crucifixion was too gruesome for children, and it didn't make sense to tell about Jesus rising from the dead if you hadn't taught about him dying.

What!? There is no other hope for me to give to my children to face sin and pain unless I tell them about what Jesus did on the cross. And there is no hope for me either.

Certainly, the crucifixion is gruesome and one can spare small children all of the details. But, sin is gruesome too and I have nothing else to tell them except that Jesus died in their place to pay for the sins that they commit so that they can be right before a holy, just, and loving God. Simply telling them, "well, do better next time" or "at least you are not too bad" leaves them with an unbearable weight on their little shoulders.

They need the same message that I need. That I don't have to bear the weight of my sin because Christ has "satisfied God's justice by his suffering and death in the place of sinners" (as we have been learning in the catechism). They need to know that I need God's grace and mercy through Christ too as I repent of my sin.

So as my own anger and impatience is displayed again to my children, I tell them again of the cross. I repent to them and to God and remind us all about how much we need Christ's work on our behalf.

My message to my children is not "do better" because I can't do better. I need Jesus. And they know that. They see it every day.

May God use even my sins to point my children to the grace and forgiveness that is offered for all who trust in Christ for salvation. And may He grow me more and more into the image of Christ as I daily seek to follow Him.